Colonial Williamsburg Critique

501 Words 3 Pages
In Creating Colonial Williamsburg: The Restoration of Virginia’s Eighteenth-Century Capital, Anders Greenspan provides a brief contextual history of the nearly one-hundred year history of the site’s many changes, challenges, and criticisms. Greenspan explores both the internal and external struggle for Colonial Williamsburg to serve as a national education resource and a useful platform for social history, while at the same time succeeding as a tourist attraction with vibrant ticket sales so it may survive and fulfill its mission. He concludes that a study of Williamsburg’s evolution is actually a study of contemporary society and social thought rather than a historical analysis of its restoration and interpretation. Greenspan begins with the origin story of Colonial Williamsburg and its two major figures Rev. W.A.R. Goodwin and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., son of the Standard Oil magnate. The project spoke to both men’s desire to stress the Americanist …show more content…
However, like a politician running for the Presidency, he leans on too many individual visitor comments to either quantify his argument or to serve as his pivot point for a transitional topic. Many times, I felt a letter from “Joe the Plummer in Pennsylvania” about to appear as a source for Colonial Williamsburg's policy change in employee healthcare coverage. After a while, this device rings hollow and the reader feels that better historical writing methods or quantitative analysis (Colonial Williamsburg must have done some customer surveys, etc.) could have been incorporated. Despite this, Greenspan presents a compelling account of Colonial Williamsburg’s struggle to serve many interests from historical accuracy, social history, and a center of family entertainment. He successfully argues that Colonial Williamsburg’s constant evolution of its presentation is reactionary rather than that of a proactive leader of social history and

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